allocation of land in the Plantation of Ulster
Plantation was essentially the settlement of land by
people who would be loyal to the English Crown. The land
had been seized, or rather deemed to have been abandoned
(escheated) when the Irish Earls fled the country, The
persons who received land, were called “Undertakers”
because they had to undertake certain conditions,
including building a house and “bawn” – a fortified barn,
and to settle the land with a minimum number of people of
the Protestant faith who could become militia in time of
troubles. The main Plantation period was from 1610 to
was not a new idea
principle of “Planting” peoples on seized land started
with Henry VIII’s accession to the throne of Ireland in
1541 and it was under his policy of “Surrender and
Regrant” of lands that the Irish princes received English
titles – O’Neill became Earl of Tyrone; O’Brien Earl of
Thomond; Macwilliam Burke of Galway Earl of Clanrickard.
Under Edward VI a more aggressive policy led to seizure of
lands in reprisal for insurrection; and in 1556 under
Queen Mary a plantation scheme for most of Leix and Offaly
was declared with the counties being renamed Queens County
and Kings County. The policy of seizure and grant to
English landlords continued under Elizabeth I.
adventurers in Counties Antrim and Down
Scottish migration to Ireland was initiated by the
granting of land to two Scottish courtiers – Hugh
Montgomery Sixth Laird of Braidstone, in Ayrshire, and Sir
James Hamilton from Lanark who were private adventurers
before the formal Plantation scheme commenced. There was
much wheeling and dealing after the first allotments were
made in 1603 but by 1606 the situation was resolved and
settlement began in earnest in County Down and Co. Antrim.
In 1607 tenants began to settle church lands and
Proclamations in Glasgow, Ayr, Irvine, Greenock and other
south western parts of Scotland, especially around
Braidstone, declared leased land on easy terms. The first
known Orrs – James and his wife Janet McClement came to
Ballyblack, Co Down in 1607.
of lands by the English Crown
On 4 Sept
1607 The Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel (Donegal) with 30
relatives and 60 friends and followers fled into exile.
These included Maquire, owner of half Fermanagh, It was
decided that their lands and all the lands of Shane
O’Neill were forfeit . As a result large portions of
Tyrone Donegal, Coleraine, Armagh, Cavan and Fermanagh
became available for plantation. On 29 September 1607 The
Privy Council approved Plantation of those lands.
“escheated” or confiscated lands were greater than the
government expected, largely due to the absence of maps
for many parts. There followed official surveys of the
land in 1608 and 1609 before decisions could be made how
the land would be divided and allocated.
Distribution of the seized lands.
There were three classes of persons to whom land was
and Scottish “Undertakers” who were responsible for the
plantation of the area granted to them;
Servitors, who were English crown servants resident in
be landholders were required to take the Oath of
Supremacy, recognising the rights and giving loyalty to
the English Crown.
was divided up into “precincts” and each subdivided into
“proportions” or estates of approximately 2,000, 1500 and
1000 acres. In each “precinct” the chief undertaker was
allowed an estate of 3000 acres but nobody else was
allowed more than 2000 acres. Some of the precincts had to
have “proportions” reserved for English and Scottish
undertakers. Church lands were also identified and set
aside, as was land for schools and the corporate towns and
allowed was that produce could be exported for seven years
free of any taxes; necessary articles could be imported
tax free for five years; and permission was granted for
timber to be cut from the Kings woods for building
purposes. It sounds complicated but the Plantation was
well planned and based on the substantial previous
experiences. It was also consistent in denying the
indigenous peoples adequate land on which to live and
a long list of obligations and duties required depending
on whether an undertaker, servitor or a native Irish
freeman. Not least the status determined how much and when
the rents on the lands would be due. The undertakers for
example were required to build a stone house and bawn ,a
fortified yard, within 3 years and “plant” twenty-four
able men over the age of 18 and of English or Scottish
origin for every 1000 acres. These were to represent at
least ten families, and tenants were required to build
houses near the bawn for security.
years, undertakers had to pay a rent of £5.6s.8d for every
1000 acres; servitors £8 per 1000 acres after 2 years; and
native Irish £10.13s.4d per 1000 acres.
especially the time scales, were varied in later years.
The significance of these rules is that similar
restrictions did not apply to the plantations in America.
In the 1630s these rules were used to bring pressure on
the Scottish settlers and was an important factor in their
consideration of emigration to the American colonies.
much wheeling and dealing, particularly to accommodate the
wealthy London Livery Companies whose involvement would
help guarantee a successful outcome. The Scottish
undertakers obtained 59 estates totalling some 81,000
acres. The relative small size of the estates granted
reflected the lower incomes of the Scottish lairds. King
James also exercised his influence on allocations and many
wealthy towns men were rejected in favour of middle
ranking lairds with experience in handling landed estates.
The nine chief undertakers were all titled and eleven of
the ordinary undertakers were also knights of the realm.
basis that the settlers would have mainly come from the
estates of the undertakers the origin of Scottish settlers
by County appears to have been :
Fews barony – East Lothian, Midlothian
Cavan, Clankee barony – Ayrshire, Renfrewshire,
Cavan, Tullyhunco barony – Dunbartonshire, East Lothian,
Donegal , Boylagh and Banagh barony – Ayrshire,
Donegal, Portlough barony – Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire,
Fermanagh, Knockninny barony – Fifeshire, Kincardineshire,
Fermanagh, Magheraboy barony – East Lothian, Lanarkshire,
Tyrone, Mountjoy barony – Ayrshire, East Lothian,
Tyrone, Strabane barony – Ayrshire, Berwickshire,
Linlithgowshire, Renfrewshire, Perthshire.
Office Northern Ireland (PRONI ) for details of Baronies,
Poor Law Unions, Parishes etc.
Historical Foundation (maps and townlands)
Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh
(specialises in emigration to the US and Canada)
following books deal with the Plantation and its origins
in much greater detail, and have notes about the
Undertakers but they do not give any details of the
Plantation of Ulster” by Philip Robinson. Pub. Gill &
McMillan Ltd, 1984. and by St Martins Press in USA 1984.
ISBN 0-901905-62-3 (Paperback)
Scottish Migration to Ulster in the Reign of James I” by M
Perceval Maxwell. Pub Routledge & Keegan Paul Ltd (1973)
ISBN 0-902-905-44-5 (Paperback).